When I last wrote about Santa Cruz's water emergency, I was sharing information about the City Council's call in February for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water usage. I am now writing to make sure that you know that — effective today — the city's water rationing program is mandatory and the overall reduction goal has climbed to 25 percent.

Throughout the city's water service area, residents are reducing and monitoring their water use in order to comply with this mandate. Faced with a similar reduction of approximately 25 percent, the campus is doing the same.

For the past several months, an on-campus working group has met regularly to implement emergency water-reduction strategies and monitor compliance through detailed reporting. Our residential staff members have distributed educational materials about the need to conserve, 5-minute shower timers, and other water-reduction aids.

Our students are at the forefront of many of these water-conservation activities. The Student Environmental Center has launched the "Drop Your Own Drip" campaign, which includes a friendly competition among colleges and residential halls to see who can save the most water.

There are a number of ways you can reduce your own consumption. To assist you, a special campus web site has been created that includes water-conservation tips, information about related campus activities, and other resources.

Longer term, I have charged a new task force with identifying water-management practices and new infrastructure that will support the campus's and UC's water sustainability goals. I am grateful for the work that members of the Water Conservation Task Force, including co-chairs Brent Haddad, professor of environmental studies and technology management, and Sarah Latham, vice chancellor for business and administrative services, will do in support of our long-term goals.

However, that work will not address the current water emergency. Meeting that challenge requires an immediate commitment from each and every one of us. Please do your part now to reduce demand on the city's water system.

Thank you very much for your help.